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May

9

The Master class with Dr. Tony Attwood

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I don’t often feel as excited as I did yesterday when I attended one of the SDS seminars by London Bridge.
It was my pleasure to witness Dr. Tony Attwood in action. He is a British psychologist renowned for his work on Asperger syndrome. He resides in Queensland, Australia, where he is an Associate Professor at Griffith University.

I found his presenting style very approachable, knowledgable, but also very practical. He used many clinical experiences to demonstrate specific difficulties children, adolescents and adults diagnosed with ASD struggle with on a regular basis. His approach to therapy is clearly very innovative, including family therapy to work on the whole infrastructure of a child or an adolescent diagnosed with ASD and uses a wide range of eclectic approaches. Computer programmes, literature, physical exercise, meditation, hypnotherapy, yoga, massage, spending time in nature and with animals were some of the ideas he advocated.

Many therapists including myself struggle in therapy with some ASD clients. Socialising a client to the main principles of CBT can be challenging due to their difficulties in expressing and managing emotions. Their ability to read and interpret the feelings of others, but also their own is a constant struggle.

Alexithymia seems to be responsible for a diminished vocabulary to describe the different levels of emotional experience. Often when you ask an ASD client how they feel they struggle to answer that question. They almost feel like they need a translator who would help them to translate their complex emotions into a language the people around them can understand.

Nearly 80% of ASD clients suffer from a mental health problem at some stage in their lives, 40% have symptoms of at least one anxiety disorder and 30% suffer from depression. 35% have thought about or attempted suicide. Additionally, research indicates that between 10-30% of all drug users have ASD according to http://www.skillsdevelopment.co.uk. You can find more interesting information on this subject on the website of organisers of SDS seminars.


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